By Ahmed Oluwasanjo
The reports coming from the camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria, these days, are unpleasant. Unfortunately, many of us are fixated on politics and its intrigues to the extent that we are less moved by their agonies.
Sadly, while IDPs eke out livelihoods in different camps, their miseries have been on the increase. Epidemic outbreaks threaten their survival as Boko Haram militias still lurk around to launch more devastating attacks on them. The agonies of life cannot be more.
These were folks who once had homes, businesses, farms and means of livelihoods, until the emergence of blood thirty insurgents who have not relented in their efforts to destroy North-East Nigeria completely.
Nigeria now has the highest number of Internally Displaced Persons globally, numbering 1.5 million, according to United Nations Resident Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr. Dauda Toure. Also, it was reported that before this year runs out a total number of 60,000 births are expected. Adding the number of children among the 1.5 million IDPs to the 10.5million out-of-school children, with the majority of them from northern states would make the news more depressing. What is the hope of the Nigerian Child from this region, where even before the emergence of Boko Haramtheir education did not receive serious attention from their leaders?
Truth be told, as much as the resettlement of IDPs is a national issue, the aphorism behind “charity begins at home” behooves eminent northerners to convene a forum that would pull resources together and brainstorm on how to actively partner with the federal government in rebuilding the North-East, and the rehabilitation and resettlement of our brothers and sisters who have been rendered homeless.
Kudus to all corporate, private organisations and individual donors who have lent a hand in making provisions for the IDPs. But, at this juncture, the slogan of Kano State that says “ko de mai ka zo an fi ka” meaning, (In whatever you bring up, we are better) resonates. Mind you, I am not taunting.
This slogan might be exclusive to Kano State but at this crucial stage it should be a basis to ask some eminent northerners important questions, like: where are the ex-presidents, elites, top military officers, ex and present governors, former and present lawmakers, business tycoons, religious and traditional leaders of northern descent? Where are they and what are their plans and contributions towards rebuilding the North-East and resettling its people? Do they realise that the burden of IDPs is a reflection of their failures as people of northern origin? Are they not mindful of the danger inherent in neglecting them? Would they be happy to see them join the street beggars who are already a burden to the region?
Amongst these eminent northerners are the 83 percent Nigerian oil block owners, as claimed recently by Senator Enang, and If we are to go by the popular believe that Hausa’s are cheerful givers, then we should be able to say that the active participation of the aforementioned stratum in fund raising, ensuring accountability and transparency in disbursement of funds towards rebuilding north east, rehabilitation and resettlement of IDP’s in the zone cannot be overemphasized.
After all, they often convene to promote common political interest so, doing likewise in mobilising resources to support this cause should not be out of place. If they don’t care for the IDP’s, who else?
Now, to the Nigerian Church.
Sincerely, appreciation must go to churches that have contributed to to the welfare of the IDPs in the North-East. They have done well. However, comparing the wealth of Nigerian churches and their clerics to the donations done so far by churches would reveal that the church under one umbrella could do better.
I am in no way taking the various contributions given by churches for granted but looking at the number of jets, gigantic auditoriums, schools and estates owned by Nigerian churches would give us an insight of what the Nigerian church could garner in terms of funds and support for rebuilding the North-East and resettling its people. Without fear of contradiction, Nigerian churches and their clerics are influential and wealthy enough to mobilise significant support towards this project and it would not bore holes in their pockets.
We could start with all churches in Nigeria donating sunday offerings and tithes for the next three months in one single account towards this cause. This cannot make Nigerian churches bankrupt and I am sure we the members would support it. Likewise, voluntary donations from clerics and donors who are allegedly financing the purchase of jets and other projects executed by churches would go a long way to restore hope to the IDPs.
Let’s also consider how many of the children in the IDPs camps could be given a bright future through scholarships in church-owned primary and secondary schools. Who knows if the next generation’s Dangotes and Jelanis are there in those IDPs camps? Nigerian churches have preached sacrificial and bountiful seed sowing, therefore, taking a practical step to sow their long time harvest by coming together as Nigerian Church without denominational differences to rescue the IDPs would be exemplary.
The story of the Good Samaritan who gave his time and resources to save the life of an armed robber victim, who was ignored by a priest and a levite, leaves us with a strong moral lesson in this regard.
I will not fail to say that this is no serious advocacy to support northerners, Muslims or Christians. It is a call to support human beings; our brothers who deserve the best from us all if we must avoid the danger in neglecting them as postulated, by Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, who said “a society that leave too many of its citizens behind, is sowing a seed of self implosion”.
Ahmed Oluwasanjo writes from Abuja and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org